People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
David Dobkin accidentally made one funny movie once, Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t made a good film since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the rest of the actors in The Judge look like they needed a paycheck to get their Infinti Pool cleaned. Pretty worried.
After I saw this film, I turned to my friend (a notorious over-liker of movies) and asked what he thought. “The realistic parts were actually pretty good,” he said. I asked, “what parts were those?” to which he replied, “like when Robert Duvall’s aging judge character has some sort of cancer-related fit and shits himself.” And that’s just about all you can say about The Judge, the best part of the film is when one of the great actors of the last century diarrhea’s himself in a bathroom. It’s almost pointless to dissect this film as an individual piece of work because it so strictly adheres to the cliche of the super-talented-prodigal-son-returns-home-to-save-his-family-and-learn-some-life-lessons-along-the-way film. This time it’s RDJ as a snarky lawyer who returns home to mourn his mother only to be pulled into a possible murder case involving … … … HIS FATHER (Robert Duvall). Turns out though the Judge (as everyone refers to Duvall) and his son haven’t had the love jones for each other for a while, so though Robert Downey Lawyer has the natural urge to defend him, it’s crotchety mess of a time. Both Duvall and Downey Jr. do fine work here embodying gruff and shinily annoying while holding tight to the rigidly defined structure of well, every Hollywood film ever. The film jumps the tracks though when it shies away from cliches and tries to bushwhack a new path. When I say “jumps the tracks” I mean, this film gets very strange and very depressing, very quickly. Sure, it has the requisite amount of cloying sap, but just when you think The Judge is going to end with smiles and joy, it takes a sharp right turn into depression town. I’m so tired of writing about films like these, high-gloss re-dos of the same tired themes, buoyed by strong performances but nothing but powdered, sugary shit in the middle. But this is Hollywood in the 2010s and you just hope that every once in a while some kind of winner will transcend the heap.
I don’t even know. Some sort of cliche about the banality of modern film.